Deck dilemma, splice or replace?

Jan Bloom

LOVES Wooden Canoes
My 1952 OT Yankee has decks of 2 different woods, neither appears to be White Oak and the build sheet does not state. One may be Yellow Birch. The decks are 3 ounces different in weight yet practically identical in shape. Both need tip splices. As I cannot identify either is this the opportunity to replace with new decks? As it is a CS grade canoe that would rule out Mahogany, Curly Maple, Birds Eye Maple, Figured Cherry and Walnut. Appropriate would be White Oak, White Ash, Yellow or White Birch, possibly Maple. All are available, 40 years of being a wood junky does have some positives.

It's your canoe and it is "only" a "Yankee", the "Grumman" of the day.

If you are going to replace them, make them out of whatever you want.

I'm partial to cherry, so that I is what I used for the new trim on my 1950 HW, cs grade w/low ends, except for the outer rails which are H mahogany.

Since it seems you can't restore the decks to original specs anyway, you have a perfect excuse to dress the canoe up a bit with decks from one of your figured woods.
Any wood--- absolutely! And if the decks you've removed aren't the beautifully-crafted short decks of the older Old Towns, I'd use the older type (which has more finesse) as my template.

I have this thing about dressing plain things up. I don't do it. There is a simple beauty in a plain utilitarian piece.

I did make a run up to the local saw mill and "stumped" Mike and Tom but their dad was there. He is an old forester in his 80's. He took one look at both decks and said black/brown ash. The difference between the two is the range in the species. One deck has very very tight annual rings the other very wide annual rings. This gives the appearence of 2 different kinds of wood. The very tight grain has minimal late growth while the other has very wide summer growth and gives an appearance of almost being diffuse porous as opposed to ring porous. In reading Hoadley on wood identification he points out that narrow rings due to slow growth are common in black ash with little latewood pore development and distribution. All in all I can see where my confusion came from.

Anybody got a piece of tight grained Black Ash 2"x2"x8". That would probably be more than enough to splice the ends of both decks. I am open to trading but some of what I have is not available. Lots of walnut and Cherry though.

When it comes to short decks, I feel more "poetry" in salvaging the originals if possible.... I think of all the hands that used that deck to carry the canoe and to haul it onto shore... and the eyes that watched the deck, as the canoe moved through the water. Glad you got the information you needed to understand the decks are original to the canoe, and that you can make them whole again.

Looking forward to pictures...

The only 'dressing up" I would consider would be going with real caned seats rather than the pressed cane stock seats. I really do not like that look. So I am in the market for some black ash stock for seats and deck tip repairs. Or will trade and make sure that you get "more" than what I get. Booked matched Cherry deck blanks anyone? Cherry Thwart stock and seat stock also available. This is good clear wood with some character.

I don't know about Paw Paw, but in MPLS there is a hardwood lumberyard, and they often have stock of 2ed grade ash for about 2 or 2.50 BF.

Every time I go there I sort through the stack to find boards I can up grade for canoe parts. The hard part is limiting the take home to a few boards.

Oh, are the decks different colors also, black ash can be tan like oak to very light, like the traditional ash seen in canoes. ie, which color are you looking for?

I need a good tan color with annual rings parallel to the flat faces of the deck for the splices.
I'll look tonight to see if I might have something.
Though usually I try to get the lighter/white colored pieces.
I may have a piece cut off a large plank I use for gunwale stock, that's more the tan color.

Deck wood


Look up Louis Hitchcock in Allegan or maybe South Haven. He's an old sawyer and has lots of cool stuff around. (Has some 18' cherry that would make great wales.) I no longer have his phone #.

I spliced the tips on my HW as it was only the very tips affected by rot and - a big and - I had no idea how I would bend a deck. Bending ribs the first time seemed like a challenge but heck they were cedar ribs. Bending a deck, way different.
If the OP decided to go with new decks, who here has the correct OT form (or duplicate) and could bend the decks?

Jan, we have not met, but I might know a fellow here in MI that may have what you need. Steve is a furniture maker with his own mill and kiln ect. He was very helpful to me when I was looking for some Ash for gunwales a short time ago. He took me into his "shed" where he stores his bolts for his shop and he had all species of lumber there. And he is a heck of a guy to boot. His info is below. Tell him Randy Orchard sent you. I hope this is of some help to you.

Standard Wood Products
15550 Jeddo Rd
Brown City MI 48416
Steve Hilgendorf